Masonic Avenue: 32,165 vehicles a day
The first of several city-sponsored public meetings about "fixing" Masonic Avenue was held last Tuesday evening. I was there: In BikeNopa's picture above, I'm the bald guy with the white socks in the front row.
Marc Caswell (above in another BikeNopa picture) of the SF Bicycle Coalition was there in his self-appointed role as grassroots leader of Fix Masonic, now an official front group for the Bicycle Coalition.
The delusional folks at the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association apparently thought they were going to get a great new "boulevard" for their neighborhood. What they got instead is a landscaped, six-lane expressway that now carries a lot of the old freeway traffic through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Herd is concerned that, since the same folks who designed Octavia Blvd. are contributing to the effort to "fix" Masonic, they'll turn it too into a perpetual traffic jam. His concern---and the potential blame---is misplaced, since if that happens it will be the city that does it, not the designers. And the city will do it on behalf of the bike people, who hate any street like Masonic---they call them "traffic sewers"---in the city where motor vehicle traffic moves well.
The question then is, Are we expected to allow the city to slow down/screw up traffic on Masonic---the bike people call it "calming"---so that cyclists will be more comfortable using it? Removing traffic lanes as per the Bicycle Plan would effectively jam up Masonic [Later: Instead of removing traffic lanes, the city is going to remove all the street parking between Fell St. and Geary Blvd]. I of course think that's nutty. Masonic Ave. is a major North/South traffic artery for the middle of San Francisco. Jamming it up on behalf of cyclists---and making it worse for the 44,930 people who use it every day---is a terrible idea, and the political blowback would, I suspect, be negative.
What about all the accidents and the injuries on Masonic? According to the city's own numbers, it turns out that Masonic isn't very dangerous at all. The "Bicycle Collisions" page tells us that there were a total of only 28 cycling accidents at Masonic's "Top Ten Collision Locations" in the six years between 2004 and 2009. They get this total even after inflating the numbers by including Haight and Masonic and Pine and Presidio, both intersections that are outside the project area. Divide 28 by six and you get fewer than five accidents a year on Masonic Ave., which is a low number when you consider that, according to the city, Masonic carries 32,165 vehicles a day (which is 225,155 vehicles a week, and 6,754,650 for a 30-day month!).
The same calculations show that pedestrians are in little danger on Masonic Ave. The "Pedestrian Volumes" page tells us that the pedestrian count at six busy intersections between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. is 3,306, and the Pedestrian Injury page tells us that for the same six-year period there were only 18 pedestrian injury accidents, a grand total of three a year. Again the city tries to puff up these numbers by including Masonic and Haight, Masonic and Page, and Masonic and Waller, but that doesn't help much in portraying Masonic as dangerous, since there was only one pedestrian injury accident at each of those intersections.
There's no indication of who was responsible for these accidents, but the inference that the city and the bike people want us to make is that drivers of motor vehicles are the problem.
There's also an "Intersection Collision Summary" for the "Top 10 Collision Locations" for motor vehicles, which tells us that one of the worst intersections is Masonic and Fell, with 19 collisions between motor vehicles between 2004 and 2009. Compare that number with the small numbers for cyclists (only 11) and pedestrians (only one) at that intersection during the same period, and you can draw only one conclusion: Masonic and Fell is more dangerous for drivers than for anyone else.
We have some time to mull over these facts, since the next community workshop on Masonic will be sometime in August.